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Dispute over witness disrupts Stevens trial

"It shocks us," Cary replied.

The value of the renovation is key because Stevens paid $160,000 and says he assumed it covered everything. Prosecutors say the job was so expensive, Stevens must have known his $160,000 wouldn't cover the tab.

Williams had been suffering from undisclosed health problems and prosecutors said they decided they could bring the case without him.

"We never tried to hide him," prosecutor Nicholas Marsh told the judge.

Because the government has e-mail evidence of the senator, Allen and Williams discussing the remodel, "We don't need him," the prosecutor said of Williams. "We think the documents ... prove the point here."

After defense attorneys told him Williams disputed prosecutors' version of his role, Sullivan gave them a second chance to cross-examine a VECO bookkeeper about time sheets showing he put in long hours on the senator's house. They also suggested Williams could still be deposed in Alaska.

Stevens, the longest-serving Senate Republican, is locked in a tight re-election race against Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. While Begich is campaigning, the senator is tethered to a Washington courtroom.


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